Handbook to the New Gold Fields

NWs 971.35F B188

This 1858 handbook, advertising the gold fields of the Fraser and Thompson Rivers, comes from a time when the words “British Columbia” were synonymous with “Gold!”. These early printed accounts of British Columbia are some of the most significant items in our library holdings. Before them, the world had very little sense of what British Columbia looked like.

The first line read: “The problem of colonization in the north-western portion of British America is fast working itself out.” The author was completely correct, since it was the 1858 gold rush that essentially created the Colony and then province of British Columbia. In response to the massive influx of gold-seekers from all over the world, particularly California and the American northwest, Britain established the new mainland colony of British Columbia in 1858 to protect its interests.

Published by Robert Ballantyne in 1858, the book was printed in Edinburgh, and sold for one shilling. It was rushed into print to take advantage of the rapidly spreading interest in the new gold rush in British Columbia. Books like this often raised unrealistic expectations in would-be gold-diggers, who often went home poorer than when they arrived.

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